First off, let me state that I think it is highly unlikely that the Seattle Seahawks will trade Russell Wilson in 2019. Beyond 2019? Well, that’s a different ditty to write about, but if we are talking about 2019, if I had to bet the farm and a relative’s kidney, I would say that it’s not going to happen.
However, I’m no betting person, and this has been a crazy cycle of NFL trades over the past year with Khalil Mack going to Chicago, Antonio Brown going to Oakland, and Odell Beckham Junior going to Cleveland. All three of those players are cornerstone talents that, a year ago, and most would consider untradeable. So, yes, anything can happen. But none of those guys are franchise quarterbacks. Russell Wilson is. That, in and of itself, feels like it would be highly unlikely Seattle would move him, and the other reason is that presently, there is nobody in place on the roster to take his place.
What then would make the Seahawks consider trading him now? Well, let’s explore that.
Russell Wilson has set a hard deadline for the team to work out a deal with him, and that is April 15th, two weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft. A good reason for that hard deadline is likely so that it eliminates any leverage Seattle would have over Russell should they draft a quarterback with a high round pick.
On top of all this, while Russell wants to be the highest paid quarterback in the league, and the team might well be willing to meet him there, now Mike Florio is reporting that what Russell might be going for is an escalation clause in a long term deal that would increase his annual earnings each year should another quarterback sign an extension that would top his. In other words, Russell wants a deal that would continue to make him the highest paid player in the league annually, and the Seahawks might likely not be so eager to accommodate that desire.
So let’s suppose that is the sticking point, and a deal fails to materialize by April 15th. Both sides may well be happy to play out the season, and then play the franchise tag game for 2020, and beyond. But how does that go down in the locker room? How do players feel about Russell playing that kind of game with the team? How does Russell look fifty two other guys in the face and say that he is “all in,” and how does he lead them if he is essentially one foot out the door himself? How do the fans in the stands treat him when he throws a pick, or takes one of his usual unnecessary sacks? There could be a headache brewing down the road by playing this franchise tag game with Russ that Schneider and Carroll may not want to manage as it relates to other players on the roster, and fans in the stands if their seasons fall short.
Now, with this assumption that a deal doesn’t get done by the April 15th deadline, Seattle could have a ten day window to field calls from teams regarding a trade for Russ. What if the New York Giants called and offered Seattle picks six and seventeen in the draft for Russell? Would that be enough to move the needle for Pete and John to consider?
This draft class is being touted as the deepest defensive line class in the last twenty seven years or so, and we know how much Pete Carroll loves his defense. That offer might perk up his ears a bit. But Russell is John Schneider’s guy. Would John Schneider be winning to give up a generational talent, at the single most important position in football, for a couple first round picks to be used on what are ultimately unproven players?
It’s also worth noting that this draft class is not considered especially deep at the QB position. It’s got maybe two or three players that the league seems fairly keen on, but then a handful of players that might have what it takes to develop into good professional passers, but are also considered major projects.
So, does John Schneider bite on the Giants offer?
Perhaps, if the Giants were also willing to either toss in their 2020 first round pick, or a collection of second round picks, and I think here is why.
I am going to try to sell you on something.
Seattle may not need to draft a quarterback in 2019 if they trade Russell Wilson to the Giants, even though the only other QB presently on the roster is first round bust Paxton Lynch. There was a report that came out late last August that Seattle had an interest in trading for the Indianapolis Colt’s backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, and the interesting thing about the report was that Seattle had offered a second round pick for him. It was a pretty sounding crazy report for a couple reasons; one being that Seattle doesn’t own a second round pick in 2019, and two, a second round pick for a backup QB?! That’s whack.
The report was later shot down by both sides, and the season went on. But something marinated a bit with me in this. It sort of felt like a “where there is smoke, there is fire” sort of thing, and it lingered on me through the season. Why would Seattle do this, and at that high cost?
Seattle’s offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenhiemer, was the Indianapolis QB coach in 2017, the year Andrew Luck spent on IR, and Brissett started in his place. There’s a history between coach and player, and Schottenhiemer was credited for getting Brissett to play admirably under the difficult circumstances of that season.
I particularly remember the Colts coming into Seattle on a Sunday night game, and Brissett played pretty scrappy in the loss. He hung tough in the pocket and on the move, and had the Colts driving against a good Seattle defense that was coming after him. He was gutsy with his passes, and didn’t show fear staring into the mouth of the LOB lion. For a while, it felt like a game Seattle might lose. I can imagine that impressed Carroll.
Could have Seattle placed a call to discuss a trade, knowing what the contract difficulties around the corner with Russell? Where they looking at the 2019 quarterback class, and determining that they would rather roll with Brissett as a hedge, instead?
Now, if the Giants toss in their 2020 first round pick along with six and seventeen in this year’s class, and Seattle maybe still has something on the backburner with the Colts on Brissett, maybe, just maybe, Pete leans forward behind John, and whispers in his ear, in a quasi-fatherly way, almost teetering on creepy, if not slightly maniacal “it’s okay, you can do this.. you can let him go.. we’ll be just fine,” and Seattle makes the deal with New York, then trades for Brissett, and extends him to a cap friendly deal for him to have first crack at becoming the starter.
Now, with no more Russell Wilson salary, the team has plenty cash to spend on Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner, Jaran Reed, Germaine Ifedi, and whomever else that they want to hang onto or bring in to form the new nucleus. Plus they have a young passer with veteran experience and possibly still some decent upside left in his game. Suddenly, with pick six, seventeen, and their own pick twenty one, they have three picks to play with in round one of a potential historic defensive draft class, and no pressing need to reach for a quarterback.
At pick six, they could be staring at Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, or Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary. Both of these guys were considered the top two recruits in the entire nation when they were entering college, and each possess game wrecking physical talent. Put one of these two on the defensive line with Clark and Reed, and watch out. In an interesting note, Seattle is reportedly interested in Gary, and there is absolutely no way he makes it to twenty one, he probably doesn’t make it out of the top ten. Why the interest in him then? Hm.
At pick seventeen, Seattle could be looking at Iowa tight end TJ Hockenson, or Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard. Hockenson is regarded as the best tight end prospect in twenty years, and rates as a superb blocker and pass catcher. Dillard is a highly intelligent and athletically gifted left tackle that could come in and start at left guard, and once Duane Brown is ready to hang them up, slide on into is nature left tackle spot. Seattle is reportedly interested in Dillard, and he probably wouldn’t be there at pick twenty one.
At pick 21, Seattle could look at Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell, or Michigan linebacker Devin Bush; two other guys that have blue chip potential. Or they can trade back a bit towards the end of round one, pick up an extra third round pick, and grab UW defensive back Byron Murphy, or Oklahoma guard Cody Ford; players that possess on-field traits that Pete Carroll loves.
Seattle could end up with a draft class that has up to three potential blue chip players, and for sake of argument, four other players that all could have decent starter potential all on cheap rookie deals. Plus on top of that, Seattle would have two first round picks to play with in 2020.
Trading Russell may well mean that Seattle doesn’t make the playoffs in 2019, but maybe not. Maybe doing away with Russell’s 2019 salary opens the door financially for Ndamukong Suh to sign a deal, and be paired next to Jarran Reed. A 2019 Seahawk defensive line could suddenly sport, Clark, Reed, Suh, and Gary. Fun.
Folks can laugh all they want to at the suggestion of Jacoby Brissett leading the 2019 Seahawks into the postseason, but let us not forget so quickly that Blake Bortles led the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars to the AFC championship game with a team built to run, and play tough defense. Chuckle away, but I say it’s possible. Is Bortles better than Brissett? Yeah, I’m not so sure.
And I’m not saying Brissett would be the long term answer, either, or even that I’m advocating for him. I’m just saying that I can fully see the Seahawks going after him after a Russell Wilson trade to give him the opportunity to be the starter. There is precedent there when they traded a third round pick to the Chargers in 2010 for Charlie Whitehurst when they could have drafted a QB, and then again in 2011, they signed free agent Tavaris Jackson. Even in the year that they ultimately drafted Russell in 2012, they again first went the veteran route with Matt Flynn. Seattle, under Pete Carroll and John Schneider have shown more precedent pursuing veteran solutions for the QB1 job than drafted ones. It’s just that a drafted player ended up being best solution, and yet that was a player wasn’t even drafted until round three.
But let’s stop for a second here, and be honest. This is all crazy talk, though, yes?
Yeah! It’s goofy, and I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in all of it. These are the type of thoughts that start to make sense minutes before last call, a few too many cocktails into the night, the KISS song blaring is convincing you that they were talented, and you’ve convinced yourself that the desperate person you’ve been chatting with is attractive. In those moments, you start to entertain trading your star quarterback and replacing him with a journeyman. Then the next day, you feel bad about yourself, think about returning to yoga, and cutting out red meat.
That’s why I suspect that if a deal doesn’t get done between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks by April 15th, Seattle will work diligently to lock Clark, Wagner, and Reed into new deals, and they will be prepared to franchise tag Russ in 2020, or possibly trade him then if they have a suitable heir apparent on the roster ready to step in, or they just play the franchise game again in 2021.
2019 to 2021 buys Seattle time to have the next quarterback of the franchise in place, and allows Russell Wilson to enter free agency potentially still very much in his prime. It feels to me like this is where this ship is sailing. We might not like it as fans, it might feel like a long, drawn out, delaying of the inevitable, but I honestly think that this is what we are probably staring at. They will likely deal with whatever turmoil comes out of Russell’s position because, frankly, again, franchise quarterbacks are too valuable, and they won’t give him up without having another solution in place.
Carroll will have the security of Russ until he feels good about the next QB in place, and that could mean drafting a quarterback high this year, even if Parris Campbell or Byron Murphy is sitting there when they take him.
Will Grier out of West Virginia, anyone?
Yeah. I really hope Seattle and Russell can work this one out. I would love to see Murphy on this defense. I really would.